Librarian’s Guide to Organizing Scrapbook Paper

Reported By Michelle Laycock

Yeah, I know. You glanced at this headline and decided to skip this article. HEY! Don’t stop reading here! This article will not make you feel guilty about the state of your craft area!

If you are like most crafters, clutter can run rampant in your household. From fancy yarn remnants left over from that knitted purse you made three years ago, to scrapbook paper cut down to a 3 inch by 2 inch piece, you could be drowning in craft clutter that stifles your creative productivity. Allow me to offer a more detailed overall analysis of my personal clutter management system with regards to paper remnants. After all, I have lots of experience organizing things – I’m a trained Librarian.

Organizing your paper remnants starts with altering your mindset. Think like a Librarian. You must decide what remnants will be worthwhile to save and eliminate the rest. As painful as it may be, sometimes it is necessary to throw away that itty bitty 1 inch by 1 inch piece of gorgeous designer Basic Gray scrapbook paper piece even though temptation is there to covet it for all eternity.

Librarians have an acquisition plan for making intelligent purchases. Make a list of upcoming scrapbooking and stamping projects you need to complete. Access your current collection. If you need a supply, buy it. BUT… stick to your plan. If you see some absolutely jaw-dropping scrapbook paper that is out of this world, make sure you check your project supply list. If scrapbook paper is not on your list, don’t buy it – no matter how tempted you may be. Clutter costs you money to hold on to and get rid of. If you end up not using the paper at all, how much time will it take you to resell it? How much money will you lose in the process?

Adding new items to your current collection of scrapbooking supplies is similar to cataloging library materials. If you don’t label or file the items properly you will forget you have them and then they are of no use.

To maximize efficiency in storing paper, you should have 4 paper organizing methods in place:

1. Full or nearly full packages of paper – this is brand new packages or single full sheets – filed by color

2. Cut paper that happens to be of the same size – like when participating in a swap and you need to cut lots of one size, you have lots of paper the same size left over – filed by color

3. Cut paper of miscellaneous different sizes – filed by color

4. Small remnants – Filed by color tone (Yellows, Blues, Greens, etc.) along with punched out pieces in cello bag.

For file Numbers 1, 2 and 3, each color will have 3 hanging files – one for each. The Number 4 files will be less numerous – one for each tone: yellows, blues, greens, etc. Make sure to label each of these files properly with the color name so that the contents can be retrieved when needed. Any piece of paper smaller than 1 inch by 1 inch should be discarded. Be ruthless!

When you take and use new sheets of paper from your Number 1 file, return it to either file Number 2 or Number 3, depending on how it was used. When you need a smaller piece, first look in your Number 3 folder or Number 2 folder before cutting up a full piece from your Number 1 folder. When you only have a remnant piece left, put it in your Number 4 folder. As you have time watching television or if your children need something to keep them busy, take out one of your Number 4 files and choose a punch. Punch out elements from the remnants in the Number 4 file and throw the scrap away. Place the punched elements in cello bags by color and place in your number 4 file. With this process in place, you will know exactly when you need to reorder a certain color by glancing at the files. You will also prevent the tendency to cut up a new full piece of paper when you had, but could not locate, a remnant that would have done the job.

While this may seem like a nit-picky way of organizing your scrapping paper remnants, it has actually worked wonders for me and saved me time and money.

To further streamline the flow of paper across your creative desk, place a basket on your workspace labeled “To be filed”. When you are in the middle of a project and you have cut a piece of paper to size, place the paper remnant in this basket. At the end of your creative experience, take the paper in your basket and file the remnants in file Numbers 2, 3 and 4 accordingly.

Patterned scrapbook papers can be organized with the same system except that the name and/or manufacturer’s name should be on the label instead of a color name.

When it comes to scrapbook papers, raise your hand if you are a hoarder! If you raised your hand, you are certainly not alone. There comes a time, however, that the paper in your collection goes out of style or your preferences change. Why hang on to paper just because you purchased it?

Sometimes you just need to refresh your paper collection by weeding out the old. If you haven’t used it since you made your niece’s birthday scrapbook five years ago, it is time to let it go. Holding onto the non-useful will prevent you from enjoying the new and useful. Join a scrapbook paper swap group, take it to a crop and share it with others. Whatever you do, don’t let paper accumulate. Scrapbook papers are like rabbits. They reproduce at alarming rates! Clamp down on your paper hoarding and you will have a more enjoyable paper crafting lifestyle.

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4 Responses to Librarian’s Guide to Organizing Scrapbook Paper

  1. Avatar
    Pat June 6, 2007 at 2:36 pm #

    I am so loving these articles about organizing. I hope to be able to use some of them in my new studio. Thanks so much for sharing them.

  2. Avatar
    Sharon in NE June 6, 2007 at 6:27 pm #

    Clear and concise. Great post. Thanks

  3. Avatar
    Phyllis June 7, 2007 at 10:02 am #

    You just solved my 1/4 and 1/2 sheet storage problem! They really don’t belong with the scraps, but no room with my whole sheets. I will be adding #2 to my system soon.

  4. Avatar
    Gina K. June 10, 2007 at 12:09 pm #

    Great article Michelle! Thanks for the “librarian’s view!” It’s always easy for me to find books in the library. Maybe I should start organzing other things this way too!